FolkWorld #78 07/2022
© Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival

“Every year in mid-July there is a festival on the south coast of England to remember the class war that raged there during one particularly tumultuous period in the 1830's. As I'm looking forward to singing at the Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival where I'll be from July 14-17, along with some of my favorite musicians on the planet such as Robb Johnson who will be compering, I was inspired to do more research and write a song for the occasion.” — David Rovics

'On the South Coast of England...'

Tolpuddle Martyrs

Artist Video A marvellous song to rival his wonderful signature song Operation Iraqi Liberation (O.I.L.) that first stirred my soul some 15 years ago. Just one tiny quibble: his reference at 1.07 to the 'Pacific Ocean' puzzles me. Should that not be 'South Atlantic and Indian Oceans'? Convict ships to Australia never went via the treacherous Cape Horn, surely? But hey, that is a small matter: the important thing is that David Rovics has taken on the mantle of the great Tom Paxton, now that Tom is in retirement. David is surely now America's leading voice in protesting injustice in this world: I think back to seeing the young Tom Paxton on the stage of London's Royal Albert Hall back in the winter of 1965/6, wowing us with the passion of songs like 'Lyndon Johnson Told The Nation', and now looking yet again at David's superlative 2006 YouTube performance of O.I.L., I can see the way that both artistes merge into one another. Fantastic. Bravo! (David "Dai" Woosnam)

Road To Dorchester

Songs That Made History: 'Tolpuddle' by David Rovics / Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival 15-17 July 2022

Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival

15-17 July 2022

Artist Video www.tolpuddle

Artist Video Billy Bragg @ FROG

There has been an annual gathering to mark the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs since 1930s. It began as a Sunday afternoon event with wreaths laid on the grave of James Hammett, followed by a procession of banners and speeches. Today, the annual event sees thousands of trade unionists from around the UK and the world descends on the small village of Tolpuddle in Dorset to celebrate the memory of the Tolpuddle Martyrs and the legacy they left behind. The Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival reflects the spirit of those prepared to stand up and be counted, and for those just learning about its history. It is a joyful celebration of solidarity.


BatsFeet: A crypto-social ukeabilly protest folk goth collective from Worthing.

Birmingham Clarion Singers: Will perform a rendition of Rob Harper’s ‘Asbestos Song’.

Carsie Blanton: A US artist that performed for the online festival in 2021 and we are delighted she will be with us in person. Carsie Blanton writes anthems for a world worth saving. Inspired by artists including Nina Simone and John Prine, Carsie delivers every song with an equal dose of moxie and mischief, bringing her audience together in joyful celebration of everything worth fighting for.

El Borez: EL Borez belongs to a community of musicians and creative souls based in Portland, Dorset. Only leaving the island in times of disaster and necessity, most El Borez performances are conducted at a walking distance from the rhythm guitarist’s house. Recording and performing for several years the collective have achieved a continuity of creativity, at odds with their innate laziness. El Borez’s latest (self titled) album was written in the midst of lockdown 2021 and, perhaps inevitably, it does contain oblique reference to that period in time alongside other rum, speculative tomfooleries.

Billy Bragg: Billy has been on the road again recently with a great new album that reflects on the impact of lockdown and the importance of solidarity. He jumped at the chance to return to the Main Stage to see old friends and new at this year’s Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival.

Cable Street Collective: Music that makes you want to dance your arse off.

Corky: Scrumpy and Western rap from the world’s greatest agricultural hip-hop artist. Songs from the West Country Nation about cider, cheese, the farmgate price of milk, rural poverty, the housing crisis and skittles.

Jonah Corren: Hailing from West Dorset, Jonah Corren is a folk singer-songwriter and poet. Created from the catalyst of relocating to Birmingham for university, his debut EP Dreaming and Petty Crime earned comparisons to Nick Drake, Elliot Smith and Joni Mitchell. His spoken word single ‘Borderlines’, created with rapper and multi-instrumentalist Rowan Sawday and funded by BBC New Creatives, is an interrogation of Corren’s own nostalgia, and an exploration of the rift between countryside and city.

Craft-D: Rapper, poet, educator and events producer from London, Craft-D now lives in Bristol. His debut single Letter to Corbyn reached #1 in the iTunes UK Hip-Hop chart, amassing hundreds of thousands of views across social media and entered in the official UK Downloads Chart. He is the UK Battle Rap Champion on Don’t Flop, a title he won in 2019 and successfully defended in late 2021.

Artist Video Robb Johnson @ FROG

Rhoda Dakar: Best known as the lead singer of The Bodysnatchers, who were signed to the 2 Tone record label. An in-demand DJ, Rhoda is sure to bring her eclectic musical taste, with a sprinkling of the unexpected, to Tolpuddle.

Jez Hellard and The Djukella Orchestra: “Quite simply the band were excellent. Distinctive and innovative alternative folk produced at full throttle by a tight unit who know how to play their instruments and work an audience. If you get the chance go see the band as it is well worth it.” – Bob Ford Wessex Folk Festival.

Dorset Red: A broad collection of socialist and progressive-inspired people singing songs of social and political protest.

Robb Johnson: Widely recognised as one of the finest songwriters working in the UK today, Robb has been a feature of the Tolpuddle Festival for many years and hosts the Main Stage with his sharp wit and powerful songs.

Hannah Johns and Davey Malone: Davey Malone and Hannah Johns blend modern and trad folk. Playing a mixture of self-penned material and choice covers with humorous undertones and a hint of punk sensibilities.

The Leylines: A West Country based group with a genre-defying, violin and guitar driven sound that ranges from folk and indie to full blown festival rock. Music that isn’t quite folk, sort of punk but 100% heart-pounding revelry. This unique sound, with lyrics ranging from social issues, life on the road and partying with friends, launched the band into the heart of the UK live music community and made them firm favourites of the festival circuit.

David Rovics

My latest piece in Counterpunch measures the impact of the rise in the price of petrol on that fragile thing we call gig economy: Breaking Even in the Gig Economy!

Artist Video David Rovics @ FROG

Crys Matthews: American protest singer, Crys Matthews recorded a special performance for the 2021 online Festival. She was so taken with the Tolpuddle story and the festival she was determined to come over in person. Hailed as the next Woody Guthrie, she is among the brightest stars of the new generation of social justice music-makers.

Holly Carter: A multi-instrumentalist from Bristol Holly Carter specialises in fingerstyle guitar and pedal steel. Her style comes from a musical upbringing steeped in the pioneers of folk and Americana.

Theo Mizú and Banda: With an original fusion of Brazilian/Latin and Balkan, Theo Mizú and Banda is taking the public to an upbeat journey around the world of music. They’ve been elected the ’Best Street Music Band in São Paulo’  - Brazil, have made the crowd dance in over 30 gigs around the UK in 2019 and are coming back for an even better season!

Negra Santa: Revolutionary punks from Argentina!! Three wicked albums already and on their 3rd European tour playing Ska, Reggae, Cumbia, Ragga, Reggaeton and Punk.

Ngaio and the Ngostics: Ngaio’s performance inside the small Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum for the online festival in 2021 was stunning and we just had to have her back, this time with her band. A versatile artist, known for her bass-heavy DJ sets to her powerhouse vocal range, intricate jazz harmonies, African percussion and truth-laden spoken word. Ngaio confronts the politics of black bodies, whilst poetically unravelling her mixed-race identity. She challenges historical notions of what it means to be a black woman.

Artist Video Peat & Diesel @ FROG

Peat and Diesel: The songs won’t make much sense to the average person. Peat and Diesel will take you on a journey to the heart of the Western Isles, where #peatlemania was born.

Danielle Sharp: Recently described as ‘Wonderfully talented, witty and gifted’, Danielle Sharp is a Dorset born, Bristol based Pop Folk singer/songwriter, writing original material about love, life, Donald Trump and everything in-between. Praised for her ‘acerbic, erudite wit, warmth, charm and humour’ she shares ‘her bang-up-to-the-minute take on contemporary life, what really gets-her-goat and how to respond to it all. Fine lyrics delivered perfectly’. She has written and recorded music for independent theatre and film, and has been a featured musician for Somerset Live, BBC Somerset and Sofar Sounds Frome, Bath, Belfast and Glasgow.

Skimmity Hitchers: The self-styled ‘denizens of Dorset and weirdos of the West Country’ with songs dedicated to cider drinkers and badgers everywhere. Bring your badger suits and dancing shoes.

Shannon White: Shannon White is a upcoming folk punk singer from Poole. Shannon has been a solo musician gigging around Dorset for about three years, playing lots of festivals and bars. Trying to win people’s hearts with her political-fuelled songs and singing about what is important to her. She has supported lots of people in the past like Black Water County and Sinful Maggie. Her favourite artists include Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg, Joe Strummer and many more. Shannon is also getting ready with new songs to record a EP in 2022.

Jack Valero: Former frontman of The RPM’s Jack has come a long way since playing his first gig at a youth festival in Dorchester with Teenage Wasteland. Now based in Brighton and signing songs that mix emotionality with a bit of social commentary Jack is coming home to Dorset to showcase his latest

Photo Credits: (1) Tolpuddle Martyrs, (2) Billy Bragg @ Tolpuddle Martyrs' Festival , (3) Robb Johnson , (4) David Rovics, (5) Peat & Diesel (unknown/website).

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